A mixed martial arts gym in San Diego quickly tapped out of a plan to drive memberships by using a puppy as a raffle prize after a flood of complaints flowed in via social media.

As NBC San Diego reports, Victory MMA and Fitness had a plan to offer a 9-week-old boxer puppy named Victory as a raffle prize open to new members. However, people quickly pointed out that promoting gym sign ups with a puppy was not not only questionable from an ethical perspective, but also possibly a crime.

Owner Joe Mannino, whose gym has been around for nearly three decades, said that he received the message loud and clear.

“In general, there was just a lot of negative feedback on social media websites,” Mannino told NBC San Diego.

“We love dogs and we thought that sharing that kind of love was going to be a good thing,” Mannino said.

Apart from the negative social media feedback, the San Diego Humane Society jumped into the fray, pointing out to Mannino that the use of an animal as a prize could be a crime in certain cases.

“We didn’t do this to break the law, so we immediately stopped it,” Mannino told NBC San Diego.

Mannino said that he’d paid a breeder $22,000 for pure-bred boxer Victory, who instead of being offered as a prize, will be given to a loving home vetted by a panel of gym personnel. The gym has offered to take care of neutering, vaccination and training costs, and will give Victory to the best home at no cost.

 

Jason Scott is Online Managing Editor of Athletic Business.